Opinion

One Thing about Nazis…

They’ve brought long-festering racism into revolting view. Time to burst the boil.

By Mitchell Anderson 21 Aug 2017 | TheTyee.ca

Mitchell Anderson is a freelance writer based in Vancouver and a frequent contributor to The Tyee. Find his previous articles for The Tyee here.

When searching for a bright spot in a horrible tragedy an old joke comes to mind: Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? With one anti-Nazi protester killed and many others injured, it is hard to imagine the wretched events in Charlottesville could have any upside.

But perhaps the long-festering racism that has plagued America will finally be purged through collective disgust as this Nazi boil bursts into revolting view under the tacit encouragement of President Donald Trump. Like the passage of a gallstone, this will not be pleasant but perhaps necessary.

Trump is significant in this process only in that he is morally impaired on a scale previously unknown amongst past presidents. Many odious characters have held the office, but none have been so emotionally deaf as to try and obfuscate the immorality of American Nazis. With such political cover, the “alt right,” Ku Klux Klan and other bigots tucked in their polo shirts, grabbed their tiki torches and hosted their hateful coming out party.

What did they hope would happen? One gets the impression watching a chilling account by Vice News that these former denizens of obscure online chat rooms believed their day in the sun had finally arrived. But, as they say, sunlight is the best disinfectant and the resulting ridicule from the rest of America has been deafening.

Peter Cvjetanovic is a young student from the University of Nevada immortalized online in a photograph of the march as “angry torch guy.” He was apparently shocked that his image was shared so widely and tried gamely to maintain “as a white nationalist I care for all people.” As a history major who marched with neo-Nazis, and apparently of Croatian descent, he might do well to read up on a certain wretched chapter of systemic ethnic murder, but I digress.

And then there’s Christopher Cantwell, a prominent white supremacist featured in the VICE documentary positively seething with bigoted bravado. At one point he proudly proclaims his commitment to making himself more capable of violence while itemizing his various firearms like a proud parent showing off baby pictures.

Yet just days later Cantwell posted a blubbering video to social media upon learning police might have issued a warrant for his arrest. The Young Turks, a news and commentary program, delighted in posting a segment entitled Crying Nazi Snowflake Needs a Safe Space.

His humiliations were far from over. Turns out Cantwell is looking for love — how could such a catch remain single? Online dating site OK Cupid posted to Twitter last week “We were alerted that white supremacist Chris Cantwell was on OkCupid. Within 10 minutes we banned him for life.”

CEO Elie Seidman added in a public statement that “OkCupid has zero tolerance for racism. We make a lot of tough decisions every day. This was not one of them.”

The Nazi tiki torch debacle continues to crumble the apparently brittle foundations of conservative institutions. Rebel Media sent fawning correspondent Faith Goldy to the Charlottesville event, then fired her for apparently “crossing the line” — a geometric feature previously unknown to a network that once ran a segment called 10 things I hate about Jews.

The public implosion of Rebel continues apace with former British correspondents alleging donors were misled and that they were paid “hush money” to be quiet about it. Rebel founder Ezra Levant responded with his own video message to supporters assuring them he was merely being blackmailed.

Meanwhile previously cozy members of Canada’s political right such as Alberta United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney and federal Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer are jamming the exits to flee any association with the newly toxic network. People don’t like being associated with organizations accused of giving a platform to neo-Nazis. Who knew?

In Washington, the Nazi stink bomb has helped drive out White House senior advisor Steve Bannon. Simmering disputes within the GOP — the party that weaponized racial ignorance — are being fanned into open flame. Scheduled public demonstrations of strength by hate groups across the U.S. (and Vancouver) on the weekend were instead lopsided displays where handfuls of alt-right backers, neo-Nazi and assorted hangers-on were jeered by vastly larger crowds of normal enraged humans. No wonder these twisted ideologies have so far only festered in the darkness.

All this brings to mind the odd tale of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York socialite and arts patron who fancied herself a singer. After years of practice, she rented Carnegie Hall for her grand vocal debut in 1944. The show was sold out as word spread of her spectacularly appalling musical ability and the resulting spectacle, now immortalized in a Meryl Streep film, did not disappoint.

Jenkins apparently did not realize even during her performance what a disastrous idea the event had been, as her many friends shouted loudly to drown out the chorus of catcalls and boos. Only in the following days, when reading the scathing newspaper reviews, did she comprehend what the public actually thought of her musical offering. Jenkins died one month later, reportedly of a broken heart.

Likewise, American Nazis and other hate groups have finally been coaxed into the light of day by the moral impairment of their president. Like Jenkins, their isolated optimism was both short-lived and humiliating. If not for Trump, this political sepsis might have persisted for much longer than it already has. Now the lights are on, the roaches are out, and the shoes are swinging.

I’m starting to warm up to Nazis and their political patron Donald Trump.

Together they are unwittingly destroying what was supposed to be the new era of American intolerance. Instead they are perhaps the catalyst awakening Americans to confront racial hatred and ignorance that has been tolerated too long.  [Tyee]

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